Eat Your Way to a Healthier Throat

by Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. on May 15, 2012

If you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you know I’m a nut about staying well hydrated. As a person making your living with your throat, taking in enough nonalcoholic, decaffeinated fluids is one of the best things you can do every day to keep your voice healthy. Scientists tell us that fluids plump up the cells in our bodies and keep the mucus in our throats thin and healthy. (For more on how much fluid we need, take a look at this post from a few weeks ago.)

When I tell clients to drink lots of fluids, I often get the same reaction: How can I carry around enough fluid to meet my needs?  If this person is a reporter working in the field, they have a point.  You can only tote so many bottles with you as you go all over town to cover stories, and there’s often little time to stop to buy water. So I was happy to read an article in the April issue of Health magazine that offers some help.

There are actually foods that are high in fluid content and very filling as well. Eating more of these foods will deliver fluid along with healthy food.  You’ll have less water to carry, and you’ll get a diet boost as well!

Here are some foods to eat to boost your fluid intake.  Eat your fill of these and your throat will thank you!

  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Salad Greens
  • Asparagus
  • Tomatoes (raw)
  • Broccoli (raw)
  • Mushrooms (raw)
  • Green beans
  • Red Bell Peppers (raw)
  • Carrots (raw)
  • Cantaloupe
  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Tomato Soup (made with water)
  • Yogurt (low fat, plain)

Want more voice tips?  “Like” my new Facebook page at Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D., Broadcast Voice Specialist, and you can get info to improve your voice right on your Facebook page!

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Neal Browne May 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Food does affect the voice, but what I always find interesting is humidity as well. Possibly that speaks to fluid in the cells. Working at a mile high in Denver, every time I go down to the “lowlands” I notice that I gain voice depth and resonance. Conversely when I return, I find that it takes a couple of days before I get my voice back to where it should be. The lack of humidity temporarily restricts my range and depth. Singers who come here and mountain areas like Aspen and Vail for concerts (especially) are advised to arrive a couple of days in advance so they can return to their range before the performance.

Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. May 15, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Wow, Neal, this is fascinating! I’ve never heard about altitude affecting the voice. I can imagine it would affect your breathing, but pitch is a shocker! I’d love to know more about this. I’ll do some research, and if you will let me know of any sources you know about this, I’d appreciate it. Thanks for broadening my world 🙂

Neal Browne May 15, 2012 at 9:46 pm

I don’t know a lot of research backing on this. I have just noticed the relationship in my own experience. I do a moderate amount of voice over work and never schedule until at least two days after I am back from the more humid climates. I almost wish I could do the work there. There is just a sense, returning to our dry and high climate that my voice “dries out” for a day or two when I return. It’s also possible it is more the low humidity and dry climate more than altitude or possibly the combination, not sure. I’ll have to try and note the experience in Arizona, for example, some time.

Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. May 16, 2012 at 2:03 pm

My initial guess it that it has to do with the humidity. It will be interesting to see how you do after being in Arizona. Please keep me posted. This is an interesting topic to explore.

Kirsten Irving May 19, 2012 at 8:54 am

Thanks so much for another enlightening article! Wanted to ask about yoghurt, one of your hydrating foods. I cut out dairy for voice acting; firstly, is dairy bad for mucus or is this a myth? Secondly, would soya yoghurt have the same hydrating effects?

All the best!

Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. May 22, 2012 at 2:13 pm

You’ve asked some great questions, Kirsten. First, I think dairy sensitivity varies from person to person. I know I have problems with dairy. It’s usually as long as an hour after I eat/drink. I find myself clearing my throat for about ten minutes. In terms of the soya yoghurt, it would certainly be as hydrating and should not cause the extra mucus. My advice is to always try it out and see what happens 🙂

Bryan Logan May 23, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Great article, Ann. I cannot agree more about staying hydrated. A great way to get those necessary fluid-rich veggies is through juicing. Find a place that juices fresh fruits and vegetables and you’ll have everything you need in one cup. I do this regularly.

Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. May 23, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Bryan you’ve thought of a great idea! I didn’t think of juicing. That’s the perfect way to add fluid as well as healthy fruits and vitamins. Great point!

Ernie Singer May 31, 2012 at 2:49 am

-Years ago, I had problems singing after eating pasta (tuna-noodle casserole to be specific). -These days tea is my hot drink of choice (with an occasional cup of coffee) and while it hasn’t affected my announcing, my throat does not always feel “clean”.
-Years ago, on the TV series “Mad About You”, a voice talent claimed that a certain brand of water had “lubricating” qualities. Fact or fiction (If fact, which brand[s]?)?

Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. May 31, 2012 at 2:08 pm

A certain type of water??? I am not sure about that?!? I do think hot tea is a good choice for hydration. I’d stick to that and forget about some miracle water! Also, keep tabs on your dairy intake. That could cause more mucus in your throat and result in the “unclean” feeling you describe. Good luck!

Parvinder March 27, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Hello Dear,

I’m a teacher in Montreal. I teach 3 groups of students daily for line 2 hours each group. Daily I have problem of soar throat. I drink lots of water, take natural vitamin c, and even green vegetables but then also I’m having problem of soar throat. Please give me some recommendation and precautions that can improve my throat condition.

Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. March 28, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Thanks for contacting me! It sounds like you’re getting some vocal fatigue and possibly some damage. My blog posts under Vocal Health will be informative, but if it continues, I suggest you see an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. You can get your throat checked out by this physician, and he/she may suggest you work with a speech pathologist.
Best of luck!

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